As one insider said last night after the game, the idea of Anthony leaving the Knicks isn’t talked about in the abstract around the team. It’s talked about as though it’s going to happen.
While free agency is a long way away and there is lots of basketball left to be played, the team that most fans and media peg as Anthony’s likely destination is the LA Lakers, however insiders around the Knicks and Carmelo peg the LA Clippers as more likely to land Anthony if he leaves the Knicks.
Talking about 'Melo's departure as though it's inevitable is premature this early in the season.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith—speaking on The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show on ESPN New York 98.7 FM—also posited Anthony is as good as gone from New York, a report the forward himself denied:
Melo shot down premise he's already decided to leave NY. Said he's not sure who Stephen A.'s sources are, but it didn't come from him.— Rod Boone (@rodboone) December 5, 2013
Anything can happen at this point. New York's season isn't over yet. Anthony also doesn't know what other top-tier free agents like LeBron James will do. Therefore, it's important to note he's unlikely to have made a decision already.
In any case, leaving New York is something he'll consider, especially if the Knicks don't turn things around. Pushing 30, he doesn't have the luxury of waiting. If he wants to win now, and the Knicks aren't built for that come summer 2014, he'll have to weigh all his options.
Among his choices will be the Lakers.
According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst, the Lakeshow have been angling toward a 'Melo pursuit for some time. Even after extending Kobe Bryant, the team will have enough cash to make Anthony an offer.
Kobe's latest injury could impact Anthony's decision, though. The chances of him leaving more than $30 million on the table to join an aging Mamba diminish with each setback the Lakers incur.
That brings us to the Clippers, who, despite Kyler's report, remain long shots to land Anthony.
One slight problem with "Carmelo to Clippers" in 2014 rumors: Clippers have no cap room. Little chance of getting under, either.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) December 25, 2013
To all those proposing LAC sign-and-trade for Melo: Knicks would only do that if he was a threat to sign there outright. And he can't.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) December 25, 2013
The Clippers already have over $71 million in guaranteed salary on the books for next season, per ShamSports.com, meaning Anthony can only arrive via trade. Knicks owner James Dolan isn't one for trading away superstars—he prefers to overpay them—so it's difficult to imagine New York dealing Anthony before the season is out.
Which team is the biggest threat to stealing 'Melo from Knicks?
Anthony could always put the screws to New York, but he then risks immersing himself in another public relations fiasco, similar to the pickle he was in with the Denver Nuggets.
Nothing can be ruled out at this point. Again, it's still too early. However, if 'Melo wants to join forces with Chris Paul in Los Angeles, it's going to take a lot more than "anything's possible" to actually make it happen.